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Some Thoughts Concerning Education - Part V

Section 78. I foresee here it will be objected to me, what then, will you have children never beaten nor chid for any fault? This will be to let loose the reins to all kind of disorder. Not so much, as is imagin'd, if a right course has been taken in the first seasoning of their minds, and implanting that awe of their parents above mentioned. For beating, by constant observation, is found to do little good, where the smart of it is all the punishment is fear'd or felt in it; for the influence of that quickly wears out, with the memory of it. But yet there is one, and but one fault, for which, I think, children should be beaten, and that is, obstinacy or rebellion. And in this too, I would have it order'd so, if it can be, that the shame of the whipping, and not the pain, should be the greatest part of the punishment. Shame of doing amiss, and deserving chastisement, is the only true restraint belonging to virtue. The smart of the rod, if shame accompanies it not, soon ceases, and is forgotten, and will quickly by use lose its terror. I have known the children of a person of quality kept in awe by the fear of having their shoes pull'd off, as much as others by apprehensions of a rod hanging over them. Some such punishment I think better than beating; for 'tis shame of the fault, and the disgrace that attends it, that they should stand in fear of, rather than pain, if you would have them have a temper truly ingenuous. But stubbornness, and an obstinate disobedience, must be master'd with force and blows; for this there is no other remedy. Whatever particular action you bid him do, or forbear, you must be sure to see your self obey'd; no quarter in this case, no resistance: for when once it comes to be a trial of skill, a contest for mastery betwixt you, as it is if you command and he refuses, you must be sure to carry it, whatever blows it costs, if a nod or words will not prevail; unless, for ever after you intend to live in obedience to your son. A prudent and kind mother of my acquaintance, was, on such an occasion, forc'd to whip her little daughter, at her first coming home from nurse, eight times successively the same morning, before she could master her stubbornness, and obtain a compliance in a very easy and indifferent matter. If she had left off sooner, and stopp'd at the seventh whipping, she had spoil'd the child for ever, and, by her unprevailing blows, only confirm'd her refractoriness, very hardly afterwards to be cur'd: but wisely persisting till she had bent her mind, and suppled her will, the only end of correction and chastisement, she establish'd her authority thoroughly in the very first occasions, and had ever after a very ready compliance and obedience in all things from her daughter; for as this was the first time, so I think it was the last too she ever struck her.

The pain of the rod, the first occasion that requires it, continu'd and increas'd, without leaving off till it has throughly prevail'd, should first bend the mind, and settle the parent's authority; and then gravity, mix'd with kindness, should for ever after keep it.

This, if well reflected on, would make people more wary in the use of the rod and the cudgel, and keep them from being so apt to think beating the safe and universal remedy to be apply'd at random on all occasions. This is certain, however, if it does no good, it does great harm; if it reaches not the mind, and makes not the will supple, it hardens the offender; and whatever pain he has suffer'd for it, does but endear him to his beloved stubbornness, which has got him this time the victory, and prepares him to contest, and hope for it for the future. This I doubt not but by ill-order'd correction many have been taught to be obstinate and refractory who otherwise would have been very pliant and tractable. For if you punish a child so, as if it were only to revenge the past fault, which has rais'd your choler, what operation can this have upon his mind, which is the part to be amended? If there were no sturdy humor or wilfulness mix'd with his fault, there was nothing in it that requir'd the severity of blows. A kind or grave admonition is enough to remedy the slips of frailty, forgetfulness, or inadvertency, and is as much as they will stand in need of. But if there were a perverseness in the will, if it were a design'd, resolv'd disobedience, the punishment is not to be measur'd by the greatness or smallness of the matter wherein it appear'd, but by the opposition it carries, and stands in, to that respect and submission is due to the father's orders; which must always be rigorously exacted, and the blows by pauses laid on, till they reach the mind, and you perceive the signs of a true sorrow, shame, and purpose of obedience.

This, I confess, requires something more than setting children a task, and whipping them without any more a-do if it be not done, and done to our fancy. This requires care, attention, observation, and a nice study of children's tempers, and weighing their faults well, before we come to this sort of punishment. But is not that better than always to have the rod in hand as the only instrument of government? And by frequent use of it on all occasions, misapply and render inefficacious this last and useful remedy, where there is need of it? For what else can be expected, when it is promicuously us'd upon every little slip? When a mistake in concordance, or a wrong position in verse, shall have the severity of the lash, in a well-temper'd and industrious lad, as surely as a wilful crime in an obstinate and perverse offender; how can such a way of correction be expected to do good on the mind, and set that right? Which is the only thing to be look'd after; and when set right, brings all the rest that you can desire along with it.

Section 79. Where a wrong bent of the will wants not amendment, there can be no need of blows. All other faults, where the mind is rightly dispos'd, and refuses not the government and authority of the father or tutor, are but mistakes, and may often be overlook'd; or when they are taken notice of, need no other but the gentle remedies of advice, direction, and reproof, till the repeated and wilful neglect of those, shews the fault to be in the mind, and that a manifest perverseness of the will lies at the root of their disobedience. But whenever obstinacy, which is an open defiance, appears, that cannot be wink'd at or neglected, but must, in the first instance, be subdu'd and master'd; only care must be had, that we mistake not and we must be sure it is obstinacy and nothing else.

Section 80. But since the occasions of punishment, especially beating, are as much to be avoided as may be, I think it should not be often brought to this point. If the awe I spoke of be once got, a look will be sufficient in most cases. Nor indeed should the same carriage, seriousness, or application be expected from young children as from those of riper growth. They must be permitted, as I said, the foolish and childish actions suitable to their years, without taking notice of them. Inadvertency, carelessness, and gayety, is the character of that age. I think the severity I spoke of is not to extend itself to such unseasonable restraints. Nor is that hastily to be interpreted obstinacy or wilfulness, which is the natural product of their age or temper. In such miscarriages they are to be assisted, and help'd towards an amendment, as weak people under a natural infirmity; which, though they are warn'd of, yet every relapse must not be counted a perfect neglect, and they presently treated as obstinate. Faults of frailty, as they should never be neglected, or let pass without minding, so, unless the will mix with them, they should never be exaggerated, or very sharply reprov'd; but with a gentle hand set right, as time and age permit. By this means, children will come to see what 'tis in any miscarriage that is chiefly offensive, and so learn to avoid it. This will encourage them to keep their wills right; which is the great business, when they find that it preserves them from any great displeasure, and that in all their other failings they meet with the kind concern and help, rather than the anger and passionate reproaches of their tutor and parents. Keep them from vice and vicious dispositions, and such a kind of behaviour in general will come with every degree of their age, as is suitable to that age and the company they ordinarily converse with; and as they grow in years, they will grow in attention and application. But that your words may always carry weight and authority with them, if it shall happen, upon any occasion, that you bid him leave off the doing of any even childish things, you must be sure to carry the point, and not let him have the mastery. But yet, I say, I would have the father seldom interpose his authority and command in these cases, or in any other, but such as have a tendency to vicious habits. I think there are better ways of prevailing with them: and a gentle persuasion in reasoning, (when the first point of submission to your will is got) will most times do much better.

Section 81. It will perhaps be wonder'd, that I mention reasoning with children; and yet I cannot but think that the true way of dealing with them. They understand it as early as they do language; and, if I misobserve not, they love to be treated as rational creatures, sooner than is imagin'd. 'Tis a pride should be cherish'd in them, and, as much as can be, made the greatest instrument to turn them by.

But when I talk of reasoning, I do not intend any other but such as is suited to the child's capacity and apprehension. No body can think a boy or three of seven years old should be argu'd with as a grown man. Long discourses, and philosophical reasonings, at best, amaze and confound, but do not instruct children. When I say, therefore, that they must be treated as rational creatures, I mean that you should make them sensible, by the mildness of your carriage, and the composure even in your correction of them, that what you do is reasonable in you, and useful and necessary for them; and that it is not out of caprichio, passion or fancy, that you command or forbid them any thing. This they are capable of understanding; and there is no virtue they should be excited to, nor fault they should be kept from, which I do not think they may be convinced of; but it must be by such reasons as their age and understandings are capable of, and those propos'd always in very few and plain words. The foundations on which several duties are built, and the fountains of right and wrong from which they spring, are not perhaps easily to be let into the minds of grown men, not us'd to abstract their thoughts from common receiv'd opinions. Much less are children capable of reasonings from remote principles. They cannot conceive the force of long deductions. The reasons that move them must be obvious, and level to their thoughts, and such as may (if I may so say) be felt and touch'd. But yet, if their age, temper, and inclination be consider'd, there will never want such motives as may be sufficient to convince them. If there be no other more particular, yet these will always be intelligible, and of force, to deter them from any fault fit to be taken notice of in them, (viz.) That it will be a discredit and disgrace to them, and displease you.

Section 82. But of all the ways whereby children are to be instructed, and their manners formed, the plainest, easiest, and most efficacious, is, to set before their eyes the examples of those things you would have them do, or avoid; which, when they are pointed out to them, in the practice of persons within their knowledge, with some reflections on their beauty and unbecomingness, are of more force to draw or deter their imitation, than any discourses which can be made to them. Virtues and vices can by no words be so plainly set before their understandings as the actions of other men will shew them, when you direct their observation, and bid them view this or that good or bad quality in their practice. And the beauty or uncomeliness of many things, in good and ill breeding, will be better learnt, and make deeper impressions on them, in the examples of others, than from any rules or instructions can be given about them.

This is a method to be us'd, not only whilst they are young, but to be continu'd even as long as they shall be under another's tuition or conduct; nay, I know not whether it be not the best way to be us'd by a father, as long as he shall think fit, on any occasion, to reform any thing he wishes mended in his son; nothing sinking so gently, and so deep, into men's minds, as example. And what ill they either overlook or indulge in themselves, they cannot but dislike and be asham'd of, when it is set before them in another.

Section 83. It may be doubted, concerning whipping, when as the last remedy, it comes to be necessary, at what times, and by whom it should be done; whether presently upon the committing the fault, whilst it is yet fresh and hot; and whether parents themselves should beat their children. As to the first, I think it should not be done presently, lest passion mingle with it; and so, though it exceed the just proportion, yet it lose of its due weight: for even children discern when we do things in passion. But, as I said before, that has most weight with them, that appears sedately to come from their parents' reason; and they are not without this distinction. Next, if you have any discreet servant capable of it, and has the place of governing your child (for if you have a tutor, there is no doubt) I think it is best the smart should come immediately from another's hand, though by the parent's order, who should see it done; whereby the parent's authority will be preserv'd, and the child's aversion, for the pain it suffers, rather to be turn'd on the person that immediately inflicts. For I would have a father seldom strike his child, but upon very urgent necessity, and as the last remedy; and then perhaps it will be fit to do it so that the child should not quickly forget it.

Section 84. But, as I said before, beating is the worst, and therefore the last means to be us'd in the correction of children, and that only in cases of extremity, after all gentle ways have been try'd, and prov'd unsuccessful; which, if well observ'd, there will be very seldom any need of blows. For, it not being to be imagin'd that a child will often, if ever, dispute his father's present command in any particular instance, and the father not interposing his absolute authority, in peremptory rules, concerning either childish or indifferent actions, wherein his son is to have his liberty, or concerning his learning or improvement, wherein there is no compulsion to be us'd: there remains only the prohibition of some vicious actions, wherein a child is capable of obstinacy, and consequently can deserve beating; and so there will be but very few occasions of that discipline to be us'd by any one who considers well and orders his child's education as it should be. For the first seven years, what vices can a child be guilty of, but lying or some ill-natur'd tricks; the repeated commission whereof, after his father's direct command against it, shall bring him into the condemnation of obstinacy, and the chastisement of the rod? If any vicious inclination in him be, in the first appearance and instances of it, treated as it should be, first with your wonder, and then, if returning again, a second time discountenanc'd with the severe brow of a father, tutor, and all about him, and a treatment suitable to the state of discredit before-mention'd; and this continu'd till he be made sensible and asham'd of his fault, I imagine there will be no need of any other correction, nor ever any occasion to come to blows. The necessity of such chastisement is usually the consequence only of former indulgences or neglects: If vicious inclinations were watch'd from the beginning, and the first irregularities which they cause, corrected by those gentler ways, we should seldom have to do with more than one disorder at once; which would be easily set right without any stir or noise, and not require so harsh a discipline as beating. Thus one by one as they appear'd, they might all be weeded out, without any signs or memory that ever they had been there. But we letting their faults (by indulging and humouring our little ones) grow up, till they are sturdy and numerous, and the deformity of them makes us asham'd and uneasy, we are fain to come to the plough and the harrow; the spade and the pick-ax must go deep to come at the roots; and all the force, skill, and diligence we can use, is scarce enough to cleanse the vitiated seed-plat, overgrown with weeds, and restore us the hopes of fruits, to reward our pains in its season.

Section 85. This course, if observ'd, will spare both father and child the trouble of repeated injunctions, and multiply'd rules of doing and forbearing. For I am of opinion, that of those actions which tend to vicious habits, (which are those alone that a father should interpose his authority and commands in) none should be forbidden children till they are found guilty of them. For such untimely prohibitions, if they do nothing worse, do at least so much towards teaching and allowing 'em, that they suppose that children may be guilty of them, who would possibly be safer in the ignorance of any such faults. And the best remedy to stop them, is, as I have said, to shew wonder and amazement at any such action as hath a vicious tendency, when it is first taken notice of in a child. For example, when he is first found in a lie, or any ill-natur'd trick, the first remedy should be, to talk to him of it as a strange monstrous matter, that it could not be imagin'd he would have done, and so shame him out of it.

Section 86. It will be ('tis like) objected, that whatsoever I fancy of the tractableness of children, and the prevalency of those softer ways of shame and commendation; yet there are many who will never apply themselves to their books, and to what they ought to learn, unless they are scourg'd to it. This, I fear, is nothing but the language of ordinary schools and fashion, which have never suffer'd the other to be try'd as it should be, in places where it could be taken notice of. Why, else, does the learning of Latin and Greek need the rod, when French and Italian need it not? Children learn to dance and fence without whipping; nay, Arithmetick, drawing, &c. they apply themselves well enough to without beating: which would make one suspect, that there is something strange, unnatural, and disagreeable to that Age, in the things required in grammar-schools, or in the methods us'd there, that children cannot be brought to, without the severity of the lash, and hardly with that too; or else, that it is a mistake, that those tongues could not be taught them without beating.

Section 87. But let us suppose some so negligent or idle, that they will not be brought to learn by the gentle ways propos'd, (for we must grant, that there will be children found of all tempers,) yet it does not thence follow, that the rough discipline of the cudgel is to be us'd to all. Nor can any one be concluded unmanageable by the milder methods of government, till they have been thoroughly try'd upon him; and if they will not prevail with him to use his endeavours, and do what is in his power to do, we make no excuses for the obstinate. Blows are the proper remedies for those; but blows laid on in a way different from the ordinary. He that wilfully neglects his book, and stubbornly refuses any thing he can do, requir'd of him by his father, expressing himself in a positive serious command, should not be corrected with two or three angry lashes, for not performing his task, and the same punishment repeated again and again upon every the like default; but when it is brought to that pass, that wilfulness evidently shews itself, and makes blows necessary, I think the chastisement should be a little more sedate, and a little more severe, and the whipping (mingled with admonition between) so continu'd, till the impressions of it on the mind were found legible in the face, voice, and submission of the child, not so sensible of the smart as of the fault he has been guilty of, and melting in true sorrow under it. If such a correction as this, try'd some few times at fit distances, and carry'd to the utmost severity, with the visible displeasure of the father all the while, will not work the effect, turn the mind, and produce a future compliance, what can be hop'd from blows, and to what purpose should they be any more us'd? Beating, when you can expect no good from it, will look more like the fury of an enrag'd enemy, than the good-will of a compassionate friend; and such chastisement carries with it only provocation, without any prospect of amendment. If it be any father's misfortune to have a son thus perverse and untractable, I know not what more he can do but pray for him. But, I imagine, if a right course be taken with children from the beginning, very few will be found to be such; and when there are any such instances, they are not to be the rule for the education of those who are better natur'd, and may be manag'd with better usage.

Section 88. If a tutor can be got, that, thinking himself in the father's place, charg'd with his care, and relishing these things, will at the beginning apply himself to put them in practice, he will afterwards find his work very easy; and you will, I guess, have your son in a little time a greater proficient in both learning and breeding than perhaps you imagine. But let him by no means beat him at any time without your consent and direction; at least till you have experience of his discretion and temper. But yet, to keep up his authority with his pupil, besides concealing that he has not the power of the rod, you must be sure to use him with great respect yourself, and cause all your family to do so too: for you cannot expect your son should have any regard for one whom he sees you, or his mother, or others slight. If you think him worthy of contempt, you have chosen amiss; and if you shew any contempt of him, he will hardly escape it from your son: and whenever that happens, whatever worth he may have in himself, and abilities for this employment, they are all lost to your child, and can afterwards never be made useful to him.

Section 89. As the father's example must teach the child respect for his tutor, so the tutor's example must lead the child into those actions he would have him do. His practice must by no means cross his precepts, unless he intend to set him wrong. It will be to no purpose for the tutor to talk of the restraint of the passions whilst any of his own are let loose; and he will in vain endeavour to reform any vice or indecency in his pupil, which he allows in himself. Ill patterns are sure to be follow'd more than good rules; and therefore he must always carefully preserve him from the influence of ill precedents, especially the most dangerous of all, the examples of the servants; from whose company he is to be kept, not by prohibitions, for that will but give him an itch after it, but by other ways I have mention'd.

Section 90. In all the whole business of education, there is nothing like to be less hearken'd to, or harder to be well observ'd, than what I am now going to say; and that is, that children should, from their first beginning to talk, have some discreet, sober, nay, wise person about them, whose care it should be to fashion them aright, and keep them from all ill, especially the infection of bad company. I think this province requires great sobriety, temperance, tenderness, diligence, and discretion; qualities hardly to be found united in persons that are to be had for ordinary salaries, nor easily to be found any where. As to the charge of it, I think it will be the money best laid out that can be, about our children; and therefore, though it may be expensive more than is ordinary, yet it cannot be thought dear. He that at any rate procures his child a good mind, well-principled, temper'd to virtue and usefulness, and adorn'd with civility and good breeding, makes a better purchase for him that if he laid out the money for an addition of more earth to his former acres. Spare it in toys and play-games, in silk and ribbons, laces, and other useless expenses, as much as you please; but be not sparing in so necessary a part as this. 'Tis not good husbandry to make his fortune rich, and his mind poor. I have often with great admiration seen people lavish it profusely in tricking up their children in fine clothes, lodging and feeding them sumptuously, allowing them more than enough of useless servants, and yet at the same time starve their minds, and not take sufficient care to cover that which is the most shameful nakedness, viz. their natural wrong inclinations and ignorance. This I can look on as no other than a sacrificing to their own vanity, it shewing more their pride than true care of the good of their children; whatsoever you employ to the advantage of your son's mind, will shew your true kindness, tho' it be to the lessening of his estate. A wise and good man can hardly want either the opinion or reality of being great and happy; but he that is foolish or vicious, can be neither great nor happy, what estate soever you leave him: and I ask you whether there be not men in the world, whom you had rather have your son be with five hundred pounds per annum, than some other you know with five thousand pounds.

Section 91. The consideration of charge ought not therefore to deter those who are able. The great difficulty will be where to find a proper person: for those of small age, parts, and virtue, are unfit for this employment, and those that have greater, will hardly be got to undertake such a charge. You must therefore look out early, and enquire every where; for the world has people of all sorts. And I remember, Montaigne says in one of his essays, that the learned Castalio was fain to make trenchers at Basle, to keep himself from starving, when his father would have given any money for such a tutor for his son, and Castalio have willingly embrac'd such an employment upon very reasonable terms; but this was for want of intelligence.

Section 92. If you find it difficult to meet with such a tutor as we desire, you are not to wonder. I only can say, spare no care nor cost to get such an one. All things are to be had that way: and I dare assure you, that if you can get a good one, you will never repent the charge; but will always have the satisfaction to think it the money of all other the best laid out. But be sure take no body upon friends, or charity, no, nor upon great commendations. Nay, if you will do as you ought, the reputation of a sober man, with a good stock of learning, (which is all usually requir'd in a tutor) will not be enough to serve your turn. In this choice be as curious as you would be in that of a wife for him; for you must not think of trial or changing afterwards: This will cause great inconvenience to you, and greater to your son. When I consider the scruples and cautions I here lay in your way, methinks it looks as if I advis'd you to something which I would have offer'd at, but in effect not done. But he that shall consider how much the business of a tutor, rightly employ'd, lies out of the road, and how remote it is from the thoughts of many, even of those who propose to themselves this employment, will perhaps be of my mind, that one fit to educate and form the mind of a young gentleman is not everywhere to be found, and that more than ordinary care is to be taken in the choice of him, or else you may fail of your end.

Section 93. The character of a sober man and a scholar is, as I have above observ'd, what every one expects in a tutor. This generally is thought enough, and is all that parents commonly look for: But when such an one has empty'd out into his pupil all the Latin and logick he has brought from the university, will that furniture make him a fine gentleman? Or can it be expected, that he should be better bred, better skill'd in the world, better principled in the grounds and foundations of true virtue and generosity, than his young tutor is?

To form a young gentleman as he should be, 'tis fit his governor should himself be well-bred, understanding the ways of carriage and measures of civility in all the variety of persons, times, and places; and keep his pupil, as much as his age requires, constantly to the observation of them. This is an art not lo be learnt nor taught by books. Nothing can give it but good company and observation join'd together. The taylor may make his clothes modish, and the dancing-master give fashion to his motions; yet neither of these, tho' they set off well, make a well-bred gentleman: no, tho' he have learning to boot, which, if not well manag'd, makes him more impertinent and intolerable in conversation. Breeding is that which sets a gloss upon all his other good qualities, and renders them useful to him, in procuring him the esteem and good-will of all that he comes near. Without good breeding his other accomplishments make him pass but for proud, conceited, vain, or foolish.

Courage in an ill-bred man has the air and escapes not the opinion of brutality: Learning becomes pedantry; wit, buffoonery; plainness, rusticity; good nature, fawning. And there cannot be a good quality in him, which want of breeding will not warp and disfigure to his disadvantage. Nay, virtue and parts, though they are allow'd their due commendation, yet are not enough to procure a man a good reception, and make him welcome wherever he comes. No body contents himself with rough diamonds, and wears them so, who would appear with advantage. When they are polish'd and set, then they give a lustre. Good qualities are the substantial riches of the mind, but 'tis good breeding sets them off: and he that will be acceptable, must give beauty, as well as strength, to his actions. Solidity, or even usefulness, is not enough: a graceful way and fashion in every thing, is that which gives the ornament and liking. And in most cases, the manner of doing is of more consequence than the thing done; and upon that depends the satisfaction or disgust wherewith it is receiv'd. This therefore, which lies not in the putting off the hat, nor making of compliments, but in a due and free composure of language, looks, motion, posture, place, &c. suited to persons and occasions, and can be learn'd only by habit and use, though it be above the capacity of children, and little ones should not be perplex'd about it, yet it ought to be begun and in a good measure learn'd by a young gentleman whilst he is under a tutor, before he comes into the world upon his own legs: for then usually it is too late to hope to reform several habitual indecencies, which lie in little things. For the carriage is not as it should be, till it is become natural in every part, falling, as skilful musicians' fingers do, into harmonious order without care and without thought. If in conversation a man's mind be taken up with a solicitous watchfulness about any part of his behaviour; instead of being mended by it, it will be constrain'd, uneasy, and ungraceful.

Besides, this part is most necessary to be form'd by the hand and care of a governor, because, though the errors committed in breeding are the first that are taken notice of by others, yet they are the last that any one is told of; not but that the malice of the world is forward enough to tattle of them; but it is always out of his hearing, who should make profit of their judgment and reform himself by their censure. And indeed, this is so nice a point to be meddled with, that even those who are friends, and wish it were mended, scarce ever dare mention it, and tell those they love that they are guilty in such or such cases of ill breeding. Errors in other things may often with civility be shewn another; and 'tis no breach of good manners or friendship to set him right in other mistakes; but good breeding itself allows not a man to touch upon this, or to insinuate to another that he is guilty of want of breeding. Such information can come only from those who have authority over them; and from them too it comes very hardly and harshly to a grown man; and however soften'd, goes but ill down with any one who has liv'd ever so little in the world. Wherefore it is necessary that this part should be the governor's principal care, that an habitual gracefulness, and politeness in all his carriage, may be settled in his charge, as much as may be, before he goes out of his hands; and that he may not need advice in this point when he has neither time nor disposition to receive it, nor has any body left to give it him. The tutor therefore ought in the first place to be well-bred: and a young gentleman, who gets this one qualification from his governor, sets out with great advantage, and will find that this one accomplishment will more open his way to him, get him more friends, and carry him farther in the world, than all the hard words or real knowledge he has got from the liberal arts, or his tutor's learned encyclopaedia: not that those should be neglected, but by no means preferr'd, or suffer'd to thrust out the other.


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John Locke was born in 1632, during the reign of Charles I, and died in 1704, two years after the accession of Queen Anne. His life covered an unusually turbulent period of English history and his fortunes were affected by the stresses of the times in which he lived. He was born at Wrington in Somerset, the son of a West Country lawyer. The Civil War broke out when young John Locke was ten years old and his father joined the Parliamentary army. John Locke spent his childhood in Somerset and at the age of fourteen was sent to Westminster School where he stayed until his election to a junior studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1652. From his Thoughts on Education, published in 1693, John Locke seems not to have been favorably impressed either by the curriculum at Westminster or with the savage discipline of the English public school of his time.

Of the Conduct of the Understanding

Of the Conduct of the Understanding by John Locke 1706 Section 01. Introduction. The last resort a man has recourse to in the conduct of himself is his understanding; for though we distinguish the faculties of the mind and give the supreme command to the will as to an agent, yet the truth is, the man which is the agent determines himself to this or that voluntary action upon some precedent knowledge or appearance of knowledge in the understanding. No man ever sets himself about anything but upon some view or other which serves him for a reason for what he does; and whatsoever faculties he employs, the understanding, with such light as it has, well or ill informed, constantly leads; and by that light, true or false, all his operative powers are directed. The will itself, how absolute and uncontrollable however it may be thought, never fails in its obedience to the dictates of the understanding. Temples have their sacred images, and we see what influence they have always had over a great